Secrets to a Happy Nanny
~By Jenna Hilton, Placement Provider, Olive.You.Nanny
From Mary Poppins to Super Nanny, we have collectively concocted a recipe for the perfect nanny. When the search for a caregiver begins, we request upbeat, loving, and responsible, with a side of extroversion or a pinch of detail oriented. While there may be some variations, it’s safe to say that all families want a caregiver who loves her (or his) job.
Likewise, nannies search for the perfect role, and while their strengths, values, and personality make them better suited for different families, they all seek to find true happiness and satisfaction on the job. In order to find your version of Mary Poppins, take a look at what our nannies said when we asked them the secrets of a successful caregiver/family relationship. Their answers might surprise you!
After asking ten successful professional nannies to describe what factors have most contributed to their on-the-job happiness, I found their responses to be strikingly similar. While pay is important, not a single nanny mentioned salary as a determinant of the greatest happiness. Nor did they mention vacation time or special perks as key to their job satisfaction. Instead, the focus was on feeling appreciated and respected. And in a tell-all platform, the nannies were more than willing to talk specifics.
“Just a simple thank-you note means the world to me,” said one career nanny, who then paused and elaborated further. “You know, I come to work every day, and I work very long hours. It is not an easy profession by any means, but it is a rewarding one. When I put the children to bed and they give me a big hug and say ‘I love you,’ I know I am special to them. I know I am making a difference, and they don’t know I work for them. They just know I love them, and that is what it is all about.”
Without skipping a beat, another experienced nanny chimed in saying, “When the parents take the time to ask me how I am doing, I know they genuinely care about me. I feel respected because I am not just a hired hand, but I am made to feel like a part of the family.”
The sentiment “feeling like a part of the family” may sound cliché, but it is important to nannies. They want to feel trusted, which means allowing them some freedom to make independent choices in regard to scheduling outings, play dates, and other activities. Professional nannies want parents to trust them enough to let them make some elective decisions, with the understanding that they will acknowledge and respect the parents’ guidelines. Moreover, they want parents to back them up when it comes to discipline, helping to foster consistency, communication, and partnership.
“When I get to work and see a tornado when I left the house spotless the night before, I feel a little disrespected. On the flip side, when I go the extra mile, like doing the family laundry, and they acknowledge my efforts without it becoming an expectation, I really feel appreciated,” said one nanny.
With respect to job performance, one nanny states, “If we are missing the mark on our end, we don’t mind constructive criticism, and we like it when parents take the time to address their concerns in a warm and respectful manner. We aren’t mind readers, but we feel respected when they talk with us directly and give us an opportunity to improve.”
Upon further discussion, the nannies mentioned feeling happy when their employers gave them ample notice when they were asked to stay later or come in early, and they felt respected when the parents made sure to arrive on time in the evening.
“No one wants to feel like they are being taken for granted,” one nanny voiced. “And we are thankful when parents acknowledge that we have a life outside of our work. It just shows that they respect our time and in essence makes us feel happier to give more of ourselves.”
While nannies want to be greeted with a warm reception and feel at home in their position, they also want to be taken seriously as professionals. “We want the parents to set aside ample time for us when there is a yearly job review. We just want to be taken seriously,” one nanny affirmed.
Perhaps a seasoned Chicago nanny best summarized the essential ingredients needed to make a happy nanny when she said, “If you have chosen me to be your nanny and find me to be capable of caring for your precious child, then show me that you believe in me, trust me, and view my job as a respectable profession. You will show me this by respecting my time, being thoughtful and appreciative, and giving me the freedom to make some independent decisions. Only then will I feel welcome, appreciated, and truly be your happy nanny.”
Photo Credit: Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net